Medal awarded to 90 year old who walked 900km

Elderly COVID-19 survivor thanked for fund raising initiative

Thursday, July 7 2022

An admired member of the KZN coastal community who, at the age of 89 walked 900km to raise funds for the families of healthcare workers who succumbed to COVID-19, has been awarded a medal of appreciation by the hospital where he himself was treated and recovered from the virus.

Bill Wedderburn, who celebrated his 90th birthday in June this year, was admitted to Netcare Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti with COVID-19 and pneumonia in January 2021 during the second wave of the pandemic in South Africa. Despite suffering from chronic kidney disease and undergoing treatment for prostate cancer at the time, Wedderburn made a full recovery.

Pic: Netcare Kingsway Hospital general manager Annatjie Demetriou, left, presented 90 year old Bill Wedderburn, right, with a medal of appreciation for achieving his goal of walking 900km before turning 90 to raise funds for the families of healthcare workers who lost their lives to COVID-19.

“I have no doubt that my survival was thanks to the efforts of the doctors and nurses who looked after me at the hospital. I was deeply saddened to hear that one of the hospital’s nurses who was only 36 years old at the time had lost her life to COVID-19. This got me thinking about all the families of healthcare workers who would be so badly affected by the loss of their loved ones and in many cases perhaps their sole breadwinner.

“I spoke to my family about what we could do to make a difference and I decided to commit to walking 900km before my 90th birthday – 100km to mark each decade of my life – as a fundraising initiative. I stuck to doing an average of 3.8km per day and continued to walk even whilst visiting family in the UK,” he says.

During the course of the year Wedderburn also had to undergo a cataract procedure in Gauteng, which was combined with some dental care he required in order to minimise time spent in surgery and hospital. This however did not stop the determined octogenarian, who continued walking during his recovery at his daughter’s home in Johannesburg.

The number nine has turned out to be a significant one for Wedderburn who on 9 June 2022 celebrated his 90th birthday, having fulfilled his 900km pledge with over R90 000 raised in donations to the non-profit fund that he established.  

According to Annatjie Demetriou, general manager at Netcare Kingsway Hospital, the hospital team was overcome by Wedderburn’s commitment to making a difference to the families of healthcare workers who had succumbed to COVID-19.


“Bill Wedderburn is a truly remarkable human being and we felt that he deserved nothing short of a medal for what he has achieved. We were therefore overjoyed to present him with a medal of appreciation inscribed with the words ‘900km for Nurses’,” she says.

“We hope that this token of our gratitude expresses how meaningful Mr Wedderburn’s commendable initiative has been for us all here at Netcare Kingsway Hospital. Every day we think of the healthcare workers who lost their lives to COVID-19, and it is truly heart warming to know just what a difference this kind gentleman is making for their families. He is an inspiration to us all,” she concluded.

Anyone who wishes to donate to Bill Wedderburn’s fund can do so via BackaBuddy:


Notes to editor

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For more information on this media release, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:            MNA on behalf of Netcare Kingsway Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clemmy Forsthofer
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]